DA wants answers on SANDF chief’s R500k jaunt

SOLLY SHOKE
SOLLY SHOKE
By Tiso Black Star Group DIGITAL

The Democratic Alliance wants answers from Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula regarding the costs and purpose of the trip undertaken by Chief of the SANDF‚ General Solly Shoke‚ along with his wife and three other military officials to Paris and subsequently Cuba.

The party said it would be submitting questions in Parliament to the minister.

It said it would also request the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to demand an explanation from the minister as to why she had approved these costs.

“The DA will not be satisfied with previous answers that such information cannot be divulged ‘in the interests of national security’ – this has simply become the favoured way by Minister Nqakula to cover up details of government corruption‚” DA spokesman on defence matters Kobus Marais asserted on Sunday.

Slamming the trip as “another spectacular instance of wasteful spending” by the government‚ Marais noted that the six-day trip to Cuba earlier this month had a R500‚000 price tag.

“This covered air travel (business class for the General and his wife)‚ a 5-star hotel in Havana and an Audi A6 to drive around in. Surely such excessive luxury is not necessary especially when Treasury has tried to implement austerity measures.

“Key Defence areas are being neglected to allow senior officials to live a life of excess. Essential equipment is falling apart‚ and we are struggling to manage peace-keeping commitments. For instance the protection of the ocean economy – which is supposed to be a government priority – is woefully unprotected.

“The first milestone of the Defence Review is to arrest the decline in our military capabilities‚ not to increase our capacity whilst key machinery is not functioning and is badly maintained‚” Marais said.

He added that earlier this month the DA had noted with concern that Nqakula had vigorously defended the decrease in the total number of flying hours for training and other mandatory defence needs that had been slashed to 5‚000 hours but the VVIP transport allocation had “received a 200-hour bump”.

“Once again‚ the ANC comes first‚ and the people of South Africa come last as VVIP transport is reserved for the likes of the ANC bigwigs and acolytes such as General Shoke.

“The DA will not rest until the Minister and all those involved are exposed and disciplined for reckless spending of state funds on travel and personal expenses. It is outright unacceptable that money is wasted on government executives whilst many workers in the military are struggling to put food on the table‚” Marais stated.

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